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  • Snow Effect on Portraits – Photoshop tutorial

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  • In this portrait Photoshop tutorial I will show you how to add snow and create a winter effect.
    We will start making some basic edits in Lightroom/Camera Raw and we will continue in Photoshop with adjustment layers and filters to create our snow blizzard.

    In order to create the snow effect in Photoshop I will use the Noise filter and the Dry brush filter from the Filter Gallery in Photoshop. You can use any Photoshop version to create this effect. We will create more depth of field by blurring some snow particles and we will create a nice bokeh effect using the new Field Blur (only available in Photoshop CC and CS6)

    Final portrait effect


    Portrait Snow effect step by step

    Below you have a quick summary of how to get this snow effect on your portrait. For more detailed instructions please take a look at the video tutorial

    Step 1 – Basic editing

    The first thing we have to do is make a basic edition of our portrait. The photo used in this tutorial is quite underexposed so we have to brighten up the shadows and increase the exposure. I edited the picture in Lightroom but you can do it in Photoshop using Levels or the Curves Adjustment layers and changing the color temperature to something colder can also contribute to a better outcome.

    Portrait effects-snow-photoshop

    Step 2 – Create the snow

    To create the snow effect in Photoshop, create a new layer above the portrait and fill it with black. Then go to Filter> Noise>Add Noise. Change the Amount to 250 % Uniform Distribution and activate the option Monochrome. Press OK to accept the changes.


    Now let’s apply a new filter to transform the noise into snowflakes. We’ll go to Filter> Filter Gallery, inside the Artistic folder you’ll find a filter called Dry Brush with which we will create the snow. We apply this filter with a Brush Size adjustment of 1 and the other settings are irrelevant because they have no effect.

    Then, without leaving the filter gallery,  create a new effect layer and use filter dry brush but this time with a Brush Size of 5-7, depending on how many particles we want to create. Click OK to apply the filter and once applied, change the layer’s blend mode to Screen layer and duplicate it with Cmd/Ctrl + J.


    Step 3 – More realism

    We have the particles created but now we have to apply a little blur so that the particles look a little more like snowflakes. For that you can use the Gaussian Blur or any blur filter you like. With a blur of 2 or 3 pixels it is enough.

    Snow effect in Photoshop. Portrait effects tutorial

    Step 4 – More depth of field

    We will use the copy that we have created on Step 2, to create the bokeh effect to some of the snowflakes. For that we must use the Field Blur that is only available in Photoshop CS6 and CC ( not sure if CS5 has this filter).

    Bokeh effect to blur particles

    Step 5 – Snow layering

    To get a more realistic snow effect on your portraits, duplicate the previous layers, resize and distort to create a motion effect as shown in the video.


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